New PDF release: The People's Network: The Political Economy of the Telephone

By Robert MacDougall

ISBN-10: 0812209087

ISBN-13: 9780812209082

The Bell procedure ruled telecommunications within the usa and Canada for many of the 20 th century, yet its monopoly was once no longer inevitable. within the many years round 1900, traditional citizens—farmers, medical professionals, small-town entrepreneurs—established tens of hundreds of thousands of self sufficient mobile structures, stringing their very own wires to convey this new know-how to the folks. controlled via opportunists and idealists alike, those small companies have been stimulated not just by means of revenue but additionally by way of the promise of open conversation as a weapon opposed to monopoly capital and for defense of nearby autonomy. because the Bell empire grew, independents fought fiercely to preserve keep watch over in their neighborhood networks and companies—a fight with an rising company enormous that has been virtually completely forgotten.

The People's community reconstructs the tale of the telephone's contentious beginnings, exploring the interaction of political economic system, company approach, and social perform within the construction of contemporary North American telecommunications. Drawing from govt records within the usa and Canada, autonomous phone journals and guides, and the records of neighborhood Bell working businesses and their competitors, Robert MacDougall locates the nationwide debates over the which means, use, and association of the phone as a turning element within the heritage of knowledge networks. The competing companies represented dueling political philosophies: nearby as opposed to nationwide identification and native as opposed to centralized energy. even if self sustaining cellphone businesses didn't win their struggle with massive company, they essentially replaced the way in which telecommunications have been conceived.

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The Bell process ruled telecommunications within the usa and Canada for many of the 20 th century, yet its monopoly was once now not inevitable. within the a long time round 1900, traditional citizens—farmers, medical professionals, small-town entrepreneurs—established tens of hundreds of thousands of autonomous cell structures, stringing their very own wires to carry this new expertise to the folks.

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Additional info for The People's Network: The Political Economy of the Telephone in the Gilded Age (American Business, Politics, and Society)

Sample text

Bell’s patent monopoly was tight but not airtight. Pennsylvania became fertile ground for wildcat systems in 1883 and 1884, when courts temporarily suspended patent litigation in the state. A showdown over rate regulation in Indiana, described below, inspired the creation of several short-lived wildcats there. A 1902 census of electrical industries counted seventy-four independent telephone systems operating in that year that claimed to have been established before Bell’s patent monopoly was broken in 1894.

25 Even when long-distance lines arrived, they were not fully integrated with local telephone systems. The transmitters in most early telephones were not powerful enough to make long-distance calls. To use long-distance lines, many subscribers had to go in person to a local office, just as they might to post a letter or send a telegraph. Until at least the early 1900s, long-distance telephoning remained a luxury and an abstraction. In time, telephone cables would span the continent and the globe.

The competition agreed. F. ’’82 By 1905, Bell Canada had secured exclusive franchises with thirty-six towns and cities in Central Canada. 83 The contract Bell signed with Kingston in 1892 was typical. It gave the company exclusive rights to the telephone business in Kingston for seven years in return for four hundred dollars per year. This was agreeable to Bell Canada. Four hundred dollars represented about 5 percent of the company’s gross annual revenues in Kingston. The company paid the same proportion for an exclusive franchise in Toronto; in many smaller cities it bought its monopoly for only a few free telephones.

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The People's Network: The Political Economy of the Telephone in the Gilded Age (American Business, Politics, and Society) by Robert MacDougall


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